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Double Retired
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14 Jul 2022, 9:01 am

I wish I knew which variant we had.

We are both fully-vaccinated and double-boosted...and ended up testing positive anyways. I went to the ER and got Paxlovid. While I was at the ER they X-rayed my chest and gave me the diagnosis: "COVID-19 Lab confirmed bronchitis".

I am told that somewhere they will figure out which variant I had for the CDC but that I am unlikely to hear what variant it was.

I have a slight lingering, dry cough. My whole life I have been prone to respiratory infections so I am used to lingering coughs as my body clears the debris from my lungs.


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14 Jul 2022, 10:35 am

Dillogic wrote:
It's the weirdest virus I've had. :|

And it only gets weirder as the months and months of Long Covid roll on =)


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lostonearth35
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15 Jul 2022, 11:39 am

My brother and sil are visiting for the next couple of weeks. My mother told me they both had covid over a month ago, but it was mild and they're both fine and no longer contagious. She didn't want me to be worried if I heard them coughing or anything. When I was having supper with them on Monday I wanted to ask if they lost their sense taste and smell and if they got it back, but I was afraid to. I often wonder and worry if I'm tasting and smelling food normally because I heard those can be the first sign of covid and you can not have any other symptoms. It doesn't sound the same as when you get a cold and you can't smell or taste as well because your nose is too stuffy, but then you can after it clears up. It sounds more like your senses get paralyzed or some scary stuff. :(



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15 Jul 2022, 8:29 pm

lostonearth35, early on, it was theorized that it may have been from peripheral and/or central nervous system damage due to the virus replicating in high amounts within the olfactory bulb (easy pathway to said nerves from there, so neuronal damage). Now they figure it's just regular old direct cellular damage to the nose, throat and/or tongue (cells that inform the neurons of these things). Which means it should come back in time for most (neurons don't heal). They also found a genetic link to it, which is implicated in mild illness, albeit at the expense of the loss of such. Younger, European and female are more likely to lose such (~40 years average age IIRC); likely a better tradeoff in the end, though. For me, I noticed other symptoms first. Slight sore throat, a mild headache and some nausea, which came and went over the days. I guess I noticed the loss of smell a few days after these, which was when the fatigue and brain fog started. No, it's not the same as the usual sinus or head cold where you have some smell and/or taste issues; it's a genuine loss of function. It'll be fine, though. Try not to worry about it (easier said than done), and you'll be fine.

SabbraCadabra, you tried a common OTC antihistamine for your Long COVID? Apparently they're showing promise for such. There's probably some chronic mast cell activation going on in a good portion of those with such. It's helped my mother and her cough.

Double Retired, the best way is to tell which wave you fell in. Earlier in the year, it'll be mostly pre-BA.4/BA.5 Omicron mutants. From around June, it'll be BA.4/BA.5. All Omicron variants replicate well in the bronchi, which can cause viral bronchitis, which isn't all that fun, and that points to Omicron in the least. The vaccines would have helped against it getting into your lungs if BA.4/BA.5, which is even less fun (unchecked viral replication there will be the cause of severe disease). Likely BA.4/BA.5 with late June.



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16 Jul 2022, 1:01 pm

Dillogic wrote:
SabbraCadabra, you tried a common OTC antihistamine for your Long COVID? Apparently they're showing promise for such. There's probably some chronic mast cell activation going on in a good portion of those with such. It's helped my mother and her cough.


Yes, I take Allegra and Pepcid AC as-needed, it's the one thing I've found that actually does alleviate some LC symptoms.

Low-histamine diet helps a lot too. Prevent it before it starts...but it's very hard to stick to it.

I usually only take them when MCAS symptoms are very noticeable, like when my hands start itching. I notice the itchiness and severe heartburn always start happening at the same time.

Now that we have some money coming in, I might buy some more and see if taking them daily helps alleviate other symptoms or not. My histamine issues have actually been fairly in-check lately, despite me splurging on my diet, but I suppose just because I don't notice it doesn't mean my body isn't suffering.


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Dillogic
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19 Jul 2022, 8:56 am

SabbraCadabra, sounds like you're well versed with it all.

Funnily, I've been experiencing hives ever since, but I'm not going to rule it in or out for COVID-19 as I've had them before. There's a chance they're related, as it's a recognized subacute or chronic symptom. I've just been using Cetirizine, which seems to help (which I took during infection all the same). Though, I'm gonna buy a generic version next time I go to the chemist, as I'm sure that'll be quite a bit cheaper.

I luckily didn't get any subacute/chronic gastritis/heartburn-like symptoms.

Smell is still gone, lol.



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19 Jul 2022, 5:30 pm

Will the BA.5 COVID strain force new mask mandates?

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These factors are making people think differently about wearing masks, which experts say are still an effective way to curb the spread of the virus. Los Angeles County, for example, will likely reinstate an indoor mask mandate at the end of the month due to rising COVID-19 cases.

ABC News’ “Start Here” podcast spoke on Monday with John Brownstein, Chief Innovation Officer at Boston's Children's Hospital, professor at Harvard Medical School and ABC News Medical contributor, about best practices for protecting people against this latest variant.

START HERE: John, the mask debate has been with us as long as COVID. Los Angeles County is talking about reinstating mask rules. How effective are masks against this super contagious subvariant BA.5?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, Michelle, there is nothing as contentious as the mask debate of anything that we've dealt with with the pandemic. And it's very surprising as a scientist, because a layer between you and others that protects you from transmission, it seems like very basic science.

But also at the community level, when you take on masks at the community level, you will see transmission go down. And that is why communities like L.A. are deciding to take on masking, because they're looking at their particular context, seeing a surge and ultimately applying correct interventions to help reduce risk and ultimately not allowing for further transmission. That would ultimately create a surge in our hospitals and a capacity concern.

But these are not broad scale mask mandates across the country for undefined amounts of time. These are very targeted and this is why it's done at the local public health level. They can look at the data and make these decisions and have people engage in a very important intervention to reduce the risk to the community.

START HERE: In terms of vaccination….we are in a much better place than last year. More Americans are vaccinated, boosted. There are treatments to help with symptoms. But how is this latest subvariant throwing a wrench into all the tools we have at our disposal?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, first, it's really important to note that the tools that we have still work. If you're fully up to date with your vaccines, especially if you're on that booster and that second booster, if eligible, it dramatically reduces your risk of severe illness and death. So that's point No. 1. Testing still works. Masking still works. So all the tools still work.

The issue is that this new variant is highly transmissible. It's immune evasive in the sense that if you are exposed to this variant, your previous immunity from vaccination and potentially other variants, likely non-human variants, doesn't necessarily protect you in the same way as previous infections. And so we're going to see increased amounts of breakthrough infections.

Many of those will not turn, of course, into severe illness, but they're turning into infections that ultimately lead to more transmission. And then we'll see the impact in our most vulnerable communities, those that are elderly, immunocompromised, and we'll see history repeating itself. And that's the real concern we have with this new immune evasive variant.

START HERE: And how does testing factor in -- should Americans be testing regularly at home?
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah, testing is such an important first line of defense. It's been the cornerstone of our response. We've seen testing dramatically reduce. People are not going to get PCRs and even home testing is declining.

And that's a problem because if people don't have awareness of their infection, they are not necessarily isolating and potentially creating risk into the community. And that leads, of course, to these surges that we're seeing.

START HERE: Health experts say they are focusing on a booster for adults this fall -- a new one targeting the latest subvariants? But should the government be expanding access to the second booster we have now for all adults?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, it's a very complicated answer because the data isn't absolutely clear about this for young, healthy adults, for older Americans. Those compromised. The risk is significant and getting that second booster is clear. I think we're still waiting for compelling data at the same time. There should be broad availability. You know, there is plenty of supply out there. So if someone feels, based on their own risk tolerance, that they want that second booster, there's really no downside.

So it makes sense to expand that availability. But we have to be very careful here because the messaging on boosters has been complicated.


CDC ends COVID-19 program for cruise ships
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has axed a program that allowed the public to view COVID-19 levels on cruise ships that sail in U.S. waters.

The CDC announced Monday it would do away with the program, saying it "determined that the cruise industry has access to the necessary tools (e.g., cruise-specific recommendations and guidance, vaccinations, testing instruments, treatment modalities and non-pharmaceutical interventions) to prevent and mitigate COVID-19 on board."

The pandemic-era policy designated ships with a color-coding system based on testing and vaccination rates, allowing the public to monitor the spread of the virus on ships. The CDC said the system was removed because it "depended upon each cruise line having the same COVID-19 screening testing standards, which may now vary among cruise lines."

The CDC said it will continue to publish guidance for cruise ships to mitigate and manage COVID-19 transmission. It also said each cruise will "determine their own specific COVID-19 related requirements for cruise travel, as well as safety measures and protocols for passengers traveling on board."


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SabbraCadabra
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20 Jul 2022, 8:49 am

Dillogic wrote:
SabbraCadabra, sounds like you're well versed with it all.

I luckily didn't get any subacute/chronic gastritis/heartburn-like symptoms.


Yup, I've got a bucket full of vitamins and supplements that didn't really do anything for me.
I should probably at least finish them off.

I've had LPR almost all my life, but before Covid, I almost never had actual heartburn. After Covid, I would get it constantly.
I've been pretty okay lately, though.


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20 Jul 2022, 8:52 am

ASPartOfMe wrote:


The current stain of COVID, the Omicron variant (ba5) is extremely contagious. I just found out that my physical therapist came down with it a few days ago. The rehabilitation center has a policy of ALWAYS wearing mask (good quality mask). This new form of COVID is out there and spreading like wild fire. But the good news is that it is not very deadly. It knock people out for a week or two but generally most people recover.


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23 Jul 2022, 11:47 pm

America Is Running Out of ‘COVID Virgins’

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I am on a mission to preserve the most valuable item in my home: my fiancé, who has never had COVID. Through sheer luck and a healthy dose of terror, he made it through the first pandemic year without getting sick. Shielded by the J&J vaccine and a Moderna booster, he dodged infection when I fell ill last November and coughed up the coronavirus all over our cramped New York City apartment. Somehow, he ducked the Omicron wave over the winter, when it seemed as though everyone was getting sick. And in the past few months, he has emerged unscathed from crowded weddings, indoor dinners, and flights across the country.

At this point, I worry about how much longer it’s going to last. People like him—I think of them as “COVID virgins”—are becoming a rare breed. Just yesterday, President Joe Biden thinned their ranks by one more person. The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that as of earlier this month, 82 percent of Americans have been infected with the coronavirus at least once. Some of those people might still think they’re never had the virus: Asymptomatic infections happen, and mild symptoms are sometimes brushed off as allergies or a cold. Now that we’re battling BA.5, the most contagious and vaccine-dodging Omicron offshoot yet, many people are facing their second, third, or even fourth infections. That reality can make it feel like the stragglers who have evaded infection for two and a half years are destined to fall sick sooner rather than later. At this point, are COVID virgins nothing more than sitting ducks?

The basic math admittedly doesn’t look promising. Most of the people getting infected right now seem to be coming down with the illness for the first time, even though they are a distinct minority. Nationally, we don’t have good data on who is getting COVID, though in New York, first infections seem to be happening at five times the rate of reinfections. Part of why those who haven’t gotten COVID seem to be at a higher risk of infection is that taking into account all other factors—vaccination, age, behaviors—they lack the immunity bump conferred by a bout with the virus, no matter how fleeting that bump may be. On its own, this would suggest that these people are in fact sitting ducks who can’t avoid infection short of hunkering down in total isolation.

The experts I talked with agreed that the risk of infection is currently high. “We are finding now that with the more transmissible variants, it’s becoming more and more difficult to avoid infections,” Robert Kim-Farley, an epidemiologist at UCLA, told me. “However, it’s not inevitable.” Rick Bright, the CEO of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute, was less certain. “Honestly, it might be inevitable, the way the virus has continued to change,” he said.

Still, they reiterated that we still don’t quite know just how at risk those who haven’t had COVID are—especially when BA.5 seems to be reinfecting so many people. “I don’t know if I would call them sitting ducks, necessarily,” Bright said, “but I would say every one of us is more vulnerable.” The unvaccinated are still the most vulnerable by far, especially to more severe outcomes. But even this far into the pandemic, it’s hard to know exactly why some vaccinated and boosted people have gotten sick while others haven’t—good pandemic behaviors might come into play, along with luck. Scientists are still investigating the role of other factors, including whether genetics might be protecting the immune systems of people who haven’t gotten COVID.

Nevertheless, all of the experts argued that COVID virgins should still try to avoid infection. Above all, they should get up-to-date on vaccination and boosters. Once those layers of protection are in place, they should continue to be prudent—especially in crowded, indoor settings—but unless they are medically vulnerable, they don’t have to take more precautions than anyone else, Kim-Farley said.

The ultimate problem with people viewing themselves as sitting ducks is that this is the exact attitude epidemiologists do not want us to have. It can foster a “why bother?” demeanor, negating all public-health efforts to stop transmission and discouraging personal efforts to protect oneself. In other words, it promotes COVID fatalism, which is appealing because it offers relief from the daily anxiety and behavioral compromises of pandemic life by assuming that an infection is a question of when, not if. This notion can be liberating for those who have never gotten infected—and presumably it is part of the reason so few are left: Many people have already adopted a “meh” attitude toward COVID, not letting the fear of an infection get in the way of living their lives.

Even this late in the game, you should really try to avoid getting COVID if you can. Having to take precautions can be frustrating after so many months of pandemic life, but getting sick can be extremely unpleasant, even if you are vaccinated and boosted. There’s the risk of long COVID, yes, but those who escape it can still feel terrible for several days, if not weeks, Bright said. These infections don’t usually lead to hospitalization or death, but they’re no walk in the park either, especially for the elderly and the immunocompromised. And as COVID continues to mutate, you definitely want to forestall a second infection, or a third down the line. The consequences of repeated infections and their potential to cause long COVID or other health issues are not yet known. And, of course, the tenets of COVID 101 are still true: Even if your infection is mild, you can still spread it to someone who could have it much worse.

When I told my fiancé that he would probably get COVID but should definitely still try not to get COVID, he described the situation as “Kafkaesque.” Indeed, these are absurd and illogical times. But at the very least, focusing on what is within our control can help us regain a modicum of sense. Short of total isolation, people may not be able to do much to avoid the coronavirus forever, but there’s still plenty they can do to escape the worst when it does come for them


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24 Jul 2022, 8:10 am

My daughter just caught it. :(
She was vaxxed but not boosted.She was coming to visit in a few weeks but may not be able now.
Bio-mom and I are the only ones in the family that haven’t caught it so far.
I have bad dreams of being in a crowded area without a mask.


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25 Jul 2022, 9:39 pm

Losing Your Hair And Your Sex Drive: Researchers Find More Symptoms Of Long Covid

Quote:
Long Covid sufferers endure a wider set of symptoms than previously thought, according to new research published Monday in Nature Medicine, the latest study to shed light on the poorly understood and often debilitating condition affecting millions of people worldwide.

Hair loss and sexual dysfunction—which includes difficulties ejaculating and diminished libido—have joined fatigue, brain fog, loss of smell and shortness of breath on the wider list of Long Covid symptoms, according to the peer reviewed analysis of health records from 2.4 million people across England.

Patients with a recorded Covid infection—nearly 500,000, none of whom were hospitalized—reported experiencing 62 symptoms 12 weeks or longer after infection compared to those who had not contracted the coronavirus, the researchers found, even when accounting for other factors like age, smoking and other health conditions.

Symptoms spanned multiple organ systems and could generally be grouped under one of three umbrellas: respiratory symptoms like cough and shortness of breath; mental health and cognitive problems like anxiety, depression and brain fog; and a broader range of symptoms like pain, fatigue and rash.

The study also suggests that women, Black people, ethnic minority groups, smokers (and former smokers), people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and people who are overweight and obese are at greater risk of developing Long Covid, the researchers said.

People with a variety of health conditions including celiac disease, migraines, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression were also at greater risk of developing lingering symptoms, the researchers said.

Experts do not know what causes Long Covid, which could in the long run turn out to be multiple conditions. Possible theories include blood clots, lingering virus or some form of immune response. Anuradhaa Subramanian, a research fellow at the Institute of Applied Health Research at the University of Birmingham and the study’s lead author, said the findings will help narrow researchers’ focus when searching for what causes Long Covid. The fact that women, who are more likely to experience autoimmune disease, are at greater risk of Long Covid is of particular interest given the suspected role of the immune system, Subramanian said.

Evidence suggests vaccination may offer little protection against developing the condition and there are no proven treatments for those with Long Covid. In addition to experiencing sometimes debilitating symptoms, a Covid infection is also associated with an increased risk of death or chronic illness like diabetes or cardiovascular disease.


Joe Manchin and Lisa Murkowski test positive for Covid-19
Quote:
Two key moderate senators -- Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- announced Monday that they have tested positive for Covid-19.

"This morning I tested positive for COVID-19," Manchin tweeted. "I am fully vaccinated and boosted and am experiencing mild symptoms. I will isolate and follow CDC guidelines as I continue to work remotely to serve West Virginians."
Several hours later, Murkowski tweeted, "After experiencing flu like symptoms I recently tested positive for COVID-19. I will be following guidance and advice from doctors and will be quarantining at home in Alaska while continuing my work remotely."


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25 Jul 2022, 10:43 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
America Is Running Out of ‘COVID Virgins’
Quote:
I am on a mission to preserve the most valuable item in my home: my fiancé, who has never had COVID. Through sheer luck and a healthy dose of terror, he made it through the first pandemic year without getting sick. Shielded by the J&J vaccine and a Moderna booster, he dodged infection when I fell ill last November and coughed up the coronavirus all over our cramped New York City apartment. Somehow, he ducked the Omicron wave over the winter, when it seemed as though everyone was getting sick. And in the past few months, he has emerged unscathed from crowded weddings, indoor dinners, and flights across the country.

At this point, I worry about how much longer it’s going to last. People like him—I think of them as “COVID virgins”—are becoming a rare breed. Just yesterday, President Joe Biden thinned their ranks by one more person. The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that as of earlier this month, 82 percent of Americans have been infected with the coronavirus at least once. Some of those people might still think they’re never had the virus: Asymptomatic infections happen, and mild symptoms are sometimes brushed off as allergies or a cold. Now that we’re battling BA.5, the most contagious and vaccine-dodging Omicron offshoot yet, many people are facing their second, third, or even fourth infections. That reality can make it feel like the stragglers who have evaded infection for two and a half years are destined to fall sick sooner rather than later. At this point, are COVID virgins nothing more than sitting ducks?

The basic math admittedly doesn’t look promising. Most of the people getting infected right now seem to be coming down with the illness for the first time, even though they are a distinct minority. Nationally, we don’t have good data on who is getting COVID, though in New York, first infections seem to be happening at five times the rate of reinfections. Part of why those who haven’t gotten COVID seem to be at a higher risk of infection is that taking into account all other factors—vaccination, age, behaviors—they lack the immunity bump conferred by a bout with the virus, no matter how fleeting that bump may be. On its own, this would suggest that these people are in fact sitting ducks who can’t avoid infection short of hunkering down in total isolation.

The experts I talked with agreed that the risk of infection is currently high. “We are finding now that with the more transmissible variants, it’s becoming more and more difficult to avoid infections,” Robert Kim-Farley, an epidemiologist at UCLA, told me. “However, it’s not inevitable.” Rick Bright, the CEO of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Prevention Institute, was less certain. “Honestly, it might be inevitable, the way the virus has continued to change,” he said.

Still, they reiterated that we still don’t quite know just how at risk those who haven’t had COVID are—especially when BA.5 seems to be reinfecting so many people. “I don’t know if I would call them sitting ducks, necessarily,” Bright said, “but I would say every one of us is more vulnerable.” The unvaccinated are still the most vulnerable by far, especially to more severe outcomes. But even this far into the pandemic, it’s hard to know exactly why some vaccinated and boosted people have gotten sick while others haven’t—good pandemic behaviors might come into play, along with luck. Scientists are still investigating the role of other factors, including whether genetics might be protecting the immune systems of people who haven’t gotten COVID.

Nevertheless, all of the experts argued that COVID virgins should still try to avoid infection. Above all, they should get up-to-date on vaccination and boosters. Once those layers of protection are in place, they should continue to be prudent—especially in crowded, indoor settings—but unless they are medically vulnerable, they don’t have to take more precautions than anyone else, Kim-Farley said.

The ultimate problem with people viewing themselves as sitting ducks is that this is the exact attitude epidemiologists do not want us to have. It can foster a “why bother?” demeanor, negating all public-health efforts to stop transmission and discouraging personal efforts to protect oneself. In other words, it promotes COVID fatalism, which is appealing because it offers relief from the daily anxiety and behavioral compromises of pandemic life by assuming that an infection is a question of when, not if. This notion can be liberating for those who have never gotten infected—and presumably it is part of the reason so few are left: Many people have already adopted a “meh” attitude toward COVID, not letting the fear of an infection get in the way of living their lives.

Even this late in the game, you should really try to avoid getting COVID if you can. Having to take precautions can be frustrating after so many months of pandemic life, but getting sick can be extremely unpleasant, even if you are vaccinated and boosted. There’s the risk of long COVID, yes, but those who escape it can still feel terrible for several days, if not weeks, Bright said. These infections don’t usually lead to hospitalization or death, but they’re no walk in the park either, especially for the elderly and the immunocompromised. And as COVID continues to mutate, you definitely want to forestall a second infection, or a third down the line. The consequences of repeated infections and their potential to cause long COVID or other health issues are not yet known. And, of course, the tenets of COVID 101 are still true: Even if your infection is mild, you can still spread it to someone who could have it much worse.

When I told my fiancé that he would probably get COVID but should definitely still try not to get COVID, he described the situation as “Kafkaesque.” Indeed, these are absurd and illogical times. But at the very least, focusing on what is within our control can help us regain a modicum of sense. Short of total isolation, people may not be able to do much to avoid the coronavirus forever, but there’s still plenty they can do to escape the worst when it does come for them

Meet the covid super-dodgers
Quote:
Joe and Susannah Altman are serious poker players. Sometimes, when playing in tournaments, they place what is called a “Last Longer” bet with friends who see which of them can outlast the others. The pandemic kept the Altmans, both 58, away from in-person tables for more than a year — Susannah has lupus, and at the time they were caring for a friend with cancer — but they came out of lockdown a little over a year ago, after getting vaccinated, and since then I’ve had a hard time. The Las Vegas couple had dinner with friends who later tested positive. Joe spent a day with their 25-year-old son, only to have that son diagnosed with covid 48 hours later. Last month, Susannah went to lunch with four friends, two of whom tested positive a few days later.

“Joe and I feel like we’re still in the Last Longer with covid,” Susannah said in a recent phone interview.

She said she thinks it’s only a matter of time before she’s knocked out. This is how the game goes.

There are no winners in a pandemic. That said, if you made it into the summer of 2022 without testing positive for coronavirus yet, you might feel like you have bragging rights. Who is still in the game at this point? Not Anthony Fauci. Not President Biden, who tested positive this week. Not Denzel Washington, Camila Cabello or Lionel Messi. Not your friend who is even more cautious than you but finally caught it last week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated nearly 60% of Americans had contracted the virus at some point — and that was in late February, before the highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 variants became endemic .

You might suspect that you are special – immunologically superior, a super-crook. You may also have come up with bizarre theories about why you lasted longer.

But among the covid-deniers — those who still test negative, not the conspiracy theory team — theories as to the reasons for their good fortune abound.

“I must have superhuman immunity or something,” said Kathi Moss, a 63-year-old pediatric nurse from Southfield, Michigan.

Scientists have found no conclusive evidence for innate genetic immunity. “It would be extremely unlikely that properties of the innate immune system could protect against all infections,” said Eleanor Murray, epidemiologist and professor at the Boston University School of Public Health. But Moss’ ability to dodge the virus – to his knowledge, we should add; a disclaimer that applies to all of these people, because in theory they could have had asymptomatic cases at some point – calls for an explanation. Consider she’s been a pediatric nurse who has been staring covid in the face (while fully masked) for 2 1/2 years now. And that she got into a car with her ex-husband, with the windows open, three days before he tested positive. And that a woman at the camp where she works every summer once gave Moss a henna tattoo and tested positive for coronavirus the next day.

Moss’s mysterious good fortune hasn’t made her any less worried about contracting the virus. She wants to stay in the game as long as she can, because she knows it’s not a game at all. What Moss fears most are the potential long-term effects of covid. “I keep thinking, ‘I don’t want this. I just don’t want this disease,'” she said.

Sustained vigilance may be the sensible approach. But not partying like 2020 only gets lonelier.

SF said her family avoided covid because they feel particularly vulnerable, not invulnerable. The 40-year-old mother of two, who lives outside of Boston, asked to be identified by her initials only, as she believes continuing to practice conservative mitigation strategies could make her a target online abuse. She is particularly worried about her 4 and a half year old daughter, who was born prematurely. And now that everyone seems to have let their guard down, protecting that child is harder than ever. No one else is masking up in the playground. It’s hard to explain to friends that they’re only comfortable gathering outdoors and still prefer to practice social distancing. “I feel like I have to choose between socializing my kids and keeping them safe,” SF said.

Lucas Rivas has immunocompromised parents, so he tried to be as safe as possible. He’s also a 27-year-old who wants to have a social life, but has had more nights out than he cares to remember.

“All these people my age were living their lives and, you know, I was living in real fear because I knew how widespread it was,” said Rivas, who managed to avoid testing positive despite his work as a medical assistant at an urgent care clinic in Littleton, Co. “It’s hard to get out of the office and forget what you see there and go socialize and be in big groups and things like that.”

Over the Fourth of July weekend, he couldn’t take it anymore. When a friend asked to meet at a bar, he agreed.

He had a drink, then another.

He sang karaoke with one woman, then kissed another.

He tested positive for the virus two days later.

He felt stupid, reckless, “as if I had lost two years of heavy precautions”.

This kind of self-imposed guilt drives Katrine Wallace crazy. Wallace is an epidemiologist, but lately she’s started serving as a de facto counselor/confessor to sick and comforting people who, like Rivas, have been devastated to see their streaks come to an end.

“There are a lot of people who feel like they’ve failed,” said Wallace, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health. “‘I’ve been so good for so long’ – I hear that every day.” She assures these people that they’re not bad – it’s the new variants that are bad. “They’ve done really well if they get it now,” Wallace said.

At times like these, she tries to avoid mentioning that she herself hasn’t tested positive yet. No need to scrub it.

Tony Freeman is certain that he will be eliminated from the game in the fall. Freeman, 63, is an actor who has been on the cast of “The Lion King” since its Broadway debut more than 20 years ago. For the past five years, he’s been on standby, ready to take over if another actor falls ill. Which was great, especially last year when he was able to sit backstage, safely hidden behind a mask. But recently, he was asked to reprise the role of Timon, the meerkat, for four months on a national tour. The role has him singing “Hakuna Matata” eight times a week as the unmasked masses cackle and cough and loudly prove to their neighbors that they know all the lyrics. (Bouquet of hyenas.)

That means no worries. . . ? Nah, not anymore. Freeman no longer relishes his chances of going through the rest of the pandemic unscathed. “I don’t think there’s anything special about my body,” he said. “If you saw it, you would agree.” The cast members test six days a week and he’s just waiting for a second line to appear.

Pessimism is a way to protect yourself. Everyone’s in the game until they’re not. And bragging about having dodged covetousness for two and a half years is like singing “Bloody Mary” three times while looking at yourself in the mirror. You don’t really want to tempt fate. Although you may not be able to help yourself, regardless of the consequences.

Last week Joe Altman from Las Vegas took a calculated risk and entered the World Series of Poker. He survived round after round, eventually finishing 31st out of nearly 8,700 players. He wasn’t the last one standing, but still – not a bad race.

Then, three days after his elimination from the tournament, he passed out with a small dry cough. Susannah gave her a coronavirus test; the second line was faint but visible. His own case was confirmed three days later.

“We got out of the Last Longer,” Susannah said over the phone. She wasn’t surprised. That’s how the game goes.


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26 Jul 2022, 8:08 am

TSA, American Airlines hit by COVID outbreaks at LAX

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The TSA at LAX is grappling with an outbreak of COVID-19, according to Los Angeles County Public Health officials.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's listing of active outbreaks at non-residential settings, a total of 220 workers with the Transportation Security Administration has tested positive for COVID in the last week.

In fact, a number of departments at LAX are experiencing large outbreaks, including American Airlines, which has reported a total of 154 infections; and Southwest Airlines with 28 infections, according to the Department of Public Health.

The outbreaks are notable because a mask mandate remains in place at LAX, and has been a requirement since the start of the pandemic. However, enforcement is spotty, and passengers are no longer required to wear masks on their flights.

Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside, and San Bernardino are now all considered to be in the high transmission category per CDC standards. The increase in COVID rates has been fueled by BA.5, a variant associated with high rates of reinfection, even among people who have been fully vaccinated and boosted.

Public health officials could reimpose a mask mandate in Los Angeles County as soon as this Friday if infections, hospitalizations, and deaths remain high. Last Friday, the 7-day case rate in Los Angeles County increased by 30%, with 481 cases per 100,000 people — higher than the case rate seen in February during the Omicron winter surge, according to the Department of Public Health.

However, business owners are pushing back on reinstating a mask mandate, saying it will hurt business recovery and confuse people, possibly driving them to businesses in other counties.


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26 Jul 2022, 1:16 pm

Why Covid is still a pandemic, says Dr. Jha: ‘We got the biological science right, but we didn’t get the social science right’

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Dr. Ashish Jha has a theory about why, after two years and counting, the Covid-19 pandemic still isn’t over.

According to Jha, the White House’s Covid response coordinator, scientists and public health officials have mostly nailed the medical response to the pandemic: As experts have learned more about the coronavirus, the U.S. has continually adapted its safety guidelines and treatment plans accordingly.

The problem, Jha said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado, last week, is that those experts often fail to communicate effectively about those shifts — leading many Americans to mistrust the science and turn to social media for health information over publicly appointed doctors and scientists.

“We got the biological science right, but we didn’t get the social science right,” Jha said.

The medical response to Covid has indeed been impressive: In record time, scientists created multiple highly safe Covid vaccines that are especially effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. New booster shots targeting specific Covid strains — for even stronger protection — are on the path toward federal approval, too.

For those who fall particularly ill from a Covid infection, multiple therapeutic drugs are currently on the market, with more in the development pipeline. Jha directly attributed these advancements to stellar communication within the scientific community.

But frequent changes to the nation’s safety guidelines, particularly early in the pandemic, torpedoed many people’s faith in official messaging around Covid — causing them to interpret a large swath of information from public health experts as inaccurate.

Jha highlighted one particularly frustrating fact: The country’s initial Covid guidelines weren’t even based on the coronavirus itself. The virus was too new for scientists to know much about it yet, so public health agencies crafted their recommendations from their knowledge of a seemingly comparable virus: the flu.

The inability — or unwillingness — to communicate that fact in those early pandemic days could have far-reaching consequences, Jha said: “I think what we should’ve done is say, ’We don’t know how this virus spreads. Our mental model is influenza. Here’s how influenza spreads and this is why right now we say this.”

Such an approach could have left more room for experts to change guidelines while maintaining the public’s trust, Jha said.

A similar pattern played out when Covid vaccines became available to the general public in early 2021, Jha said: Because public health experts assumed that most Americans would want to get vaccinated immediately, they focused their messaging on what they didn’t yet know about the vaccines, rather than what they did know.

Going forward, Jha said, public health officials — including himself — should make concerted efforts to lay everything out on the table. Often, he said, people don’t necessarily need certainty. They need a judgment call from a trusted source.

“Science is a journey. Science is a process,” said Jha. “And that I think has not been clearly communicated to people.

While I agree with Dr. Jha about what should have been done and what should be done I think it would have made minimal difference. A combination of cynicism of expertise and peoples mitigation responses becoming part of their political identity would have largely negated any public relations strategy.


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27 Jul 2022, 8:25 am

Some of the latest trend data coming out appears to show the following:

Trends in COVID-19 outcomes during the past 12 months offer something for nearly everyone. For the alarmists, new cases reached all-time highs in February, but optimists will point to the subsequent 10-fold slide in daily deaths that persisted for another four months.

In other words COVID is spreading like wildfire but the death rate is falling. The latest variant is not as deadly as the initial variants.


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